September 20, 2007

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Louisiana’s ‘Jena Six’ attracts attention, stirs action nationally

From Detroit to Daytona Beach, Fla., and Columbus, Ga., to Charleston, S.C., front pages pictured students, church members and others boarding buses for Jena., La.

An overnight caravan was to bring thousands of people to the central Louisiana town for what the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel called a “Grass-roots civil-rights cause.” “To metro Detroiters, rally in Jena is a fight for equality,” the Detroit Free Press said. The Dallas Morning News labeled its story: “Marching behind six young men.”

The journey to Louisiana was in support of six black teenagers charged in the beating of a white classmate. Protesters say the charges were excessive. “Internet galvanizes Jena, La., demonstration,” The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., said in a package titled “A civil rights phenomenon.” Picturing high school seniors waiting to begin their trek, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said: “Protest could recall those of civil rights era.”

From Louisiana, The News-Star of Monroe said: “Media, marchers put nation’s focus on small La. town.”

In Alexandria, just south of Jena, The Town Talk printed press conference photos, including a picture of the parish district attorney with the victim of the attack. “On eve of huge rally, chaos reigns,” the newspaper said. The Times of Shreveport “shares a big day in Jena,” Executive Editor Alan English said. The newspaper used much of its page for the story and printed a photo of Jena High School, where white students hung nooses from a tree last September “instigating racial tensions and bringing national attention to the community.”

Other headlines in Louisiana represented various views of the events. The Advocate of Baton Rouge said: “Prosecutor says victim of beating lost in ‘racism’ claims.” The Daily World in Opelousas said: “Jena six supported locally.”

In New York, a request by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero was denied. How was the news played by the tabs? “No way,” said Newsday on Long Island. “Zero chance,” said the New York Post, adding: “City nixes evil Iran prez bid to tour 9/11 site.” And let’s just say that the Daily News wasn’t welcoming, either.

Kate Kennedy is front pages editor at the Newseum.

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